Careers at sea in the Merchant Navy


The purpose of this Career Section is to give visitors to the WA website an insight into the career possibilities in the maritime industry. The opportunities in the maritime sector are not well understood and this website gives students and practitioners alike a taste of what is possible and provides simple direction as to how they can find out more on career opportunities.

It will not necessarily provide solutions to specific problems or aspirations but the intention is that it will offer useful direction for those who wish to research further.

The Section is divided into three basic elements and only deals with the opportunities arising in the UK. In time it is hoped that a wider international perspective can be developed to incorporate opportunities in other countries.

Pre-sea Introduction

Students wishing to start out on a sea-going career have a number of options to consider and there are a number of entry routes fro those wishing to become professional seafarers. As well as achieving statutory Certificates of Competency at Officer of the Watch (OOW) or Engineering Officer of the Watch (EOOW) level those on officer education and training programmes can undertake a degree, an HNC and/ or HND or a vocational qualification. All programmes consist of alternating periods a college/ university and at sea and operate, in effect, as an apprenticeship model.

Sea-going staff

Once the cadet training has been completed and the Certificates of Competency in place, the officer then has the task of selecting which company to join to pursue his or her career. This can be a difficult and testing time and it may not be possible to continue with the same company which provided the cadet training. The following website may be of assistance in helping to make the right selection of both company and ship type - deep sea, short sea, liner, tramp, general cargo, container, dry bulk, conventional tanker, chemical tanker, LPG, LNG, vehicle carrier, Ro/Ro, ferry, passenger, offshore, anchor handling, etc, etc. - the choice is very varied.

Jobs ashore

The transition from sea staff to shore staff is probably the most difficult period for the mariner. It invariably means a drop in seniority and probably a drop in salary - both of which can be quite traumatic.

As a general rule, the higher the qualification and/or command experience the easier it is to find fulfilling job opportunities ashore. The fact is that the maritime industry is always on the look out for bright men and women with sea going experience. Once again the Merchant Navy Training Board website is a good place to start. In addition there are a number of commercial websites which can provide opportunities, such as: